Exclusivity: The Ultimate Manipulator 

Humans are nothing, if not predictable. Say we can’t do something and, damnit, we are going to do it, or scream about how ‘they’ wont let us. While the IHOB campaign short circuited our need to gossip, the Exclusive Mural zeros in on both our need to belong, and our fear of being excluded from the group.

The mural was spotted by a Vice journalist (who later admitted he got a press release about it) ) then picked up by The Independent, and finally every other news outlet from People to ABC.

What was so special about this particular mural? You must have at least 20,000 Twitter followers to take a picture in front of it. The mural is like most other “Instagramable” street art pieces: kitsch, colorful, basic.  But this one has a security guard in front, checking your phone for Twitter followers.

From Vice Media

The joke is on us, again, because the mural was actually orchestrated by a new Go90 show called Like and Subscribe, and likely a marketing agency that will soon update their pitch deck to proclaim billions of earned media impressions.

Like any good mass psychological manipulation, this one struck a chord, then mirrored society back onto itself. In that mirror, people saw all that is wrong with social media, millennials and anything else that ails them. These feelings are released through social media and the mural spreads like wildfire for a few days.

Like and Subscribe: Before

In the end, what really happened is Like and Subscribe got 14,000 new Instagram followers.

Like and Subscribe: After

Exclusivity is the oldest marketing trick in the book. Being excluded from the group is neurologically hardwired to create a fear response because it used to mean literal death. Today, it’s a trigger that can be pulled for a wide variety of goals, both good and bad.

In all of the mural reporting, there is no awareness of what is actually going on – that the media are being played to help to spread the faux outrage. We are all those people waiting in line at the club, which is empty inside.

But campaigns like this drive clicks and accomplish the awareness marketing goals. The news sites win with traffic. Like and Subscribe wins with awareness. The marketing agency wins with a successful campaign. Everyone  wins!

Except you.

Next up – An on-demand security guard app (It’s like Uber for Security guards!) raises $15m.

Update 6/29: Like and Subscribe opened their mural up to the general public. A perfect ending to the campaign. Eventually, you have to let a few people in line at the club inside to buy those overpriced drinks!